Dentistry has changed a lot over time. Procedures such as root canals that we consider common practice today were once done using techniques that could be considered macabre. Fortunately, science has made a lot of advancements in the field of cosmetic dentistry. Here are a few different things that have changed for the better over time.
The Change from Metal Amalgams to Composites
At one time, metal amalgams or even gold foil was used to fill cavities. Even as early as 659 A.D. the Chinese had written down the usage of silver and tin blends to fill in cavities in the mouth. It was believed inserting metal into the cavity would cover up the cavity and prevent abscesses and infected nerves. Amalgams also ran a high risk of mercury exposure, though it was not severe in most cases. Today, composite fillings are used. These are both safer and more attractive. Composite fillings are made of a mixture of glass and plastic, without the mercury. It also is often tinted to match the color of your tooth so that the filling is less visible and your smile is more attractive.
Changes in Dentures
Having a missing tooth, or teeth, is something else that has plagued humanity for centuries. At one time, dentures were the only option. These were often uncomfortable, especially for people that were not missing all of their teeth. From dentures came the option of bridges. Dental bridges suspend a crown using the two teeth on either side of the missing teeth. This fills in the gap effectively, without causing discomfort. Another common option today is the dental implant. For this procedure, a post is driven through the gums. It is screwed into the jawbone where it replaces the missing root and the missing tooth.
At one time, X-Rays were done using outdated machines. These machines exposed the patient to 75% more radiation and required dentists to wait for the film to develop before they could view the images. Today, digital dental x-rays are an option. A picture can be taken and viewed almost instantly. Digital x-rays also expose the patient to significantly less radiation. Dentists also now have the ability to use endoscopes and dental loupes (which are binoculars that allow for magnified vision) in the operating room. This allows for a higher level of precision and easier surgeries.
Whitening and Shaping
During earlier times, almost everyone had teeth that yellowed with time. If there were whitening procedures, they often included the use of potentially dangerous chemical blends. Today, there are several options to whiten teeth that are safe and fast. Another change is in reshaping. At one time, each individual tooth would need to be filed down for the tooth to be reshaped. However, today there are the options of contouring and reshaping or veneers. Contouring and reshaping are procedures that can repair or straighten teeth that are chipped, cracked, crooked, or overlapping. Veneers are thin coatings to place over teeth to change their color or shape.
At one time, dentists would have their patients drink alcohol to ease the pain before ripping a tooth out. Luckily, these barbaric practices are in the past. Today, there are a wide variety of options for patients undergoing a dental procedure. These include laughing gas, sedation, and even anesthesia for some procedures. Some patients also become nervous at the idea of the dentist, which is where a new practice called sedation dentistry comes in. During sedation dentistry, the patient either takes a prescribed pill or is injected with medication so that they can relax during their procedure. Sedation dentistry is used for everything from tooth cleaning to cavity fillings.
Cosmetic dentistry has definitely advanced throughout the years. Though, there may be people who still aren’t keen on the idea of the dentist. It is highly recommended that you visit your local dentist, such as Orlando Smiles, to get a check up, to make known of any serious issues that might need to be taken care of.
Lautaro Martinez is a freelance writer and profession student who contributes articles and insight in home, healthy and beauty.